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Bann poised to secure title glory

 

By Michael Sadlier

Banbridge stand just one win away from claiming the Division 2A title, along with the sought-after benefit of automatic promotion, in this weekend's final round of regulation games.

After hammering Queen's University 43-20 at Rifle Park, leaders Bann now need a victory - bonus point not required - from this weekend's visit to already relegated Sunday's Well to ensure that chasers Highfield, who are two behind, have no hope of stealing the ultimate reward from under the noses of Dan Soper's squad.

Bann only led 15-8 at half-time but then pushed on to score six tries and secure their eighth bonus point of the campaign

Queen's have guaranteed ending in fifth but could do Bann a favour as they finish up hosting Highfield on Saturday.

And while Bann look to finish top of the pile this weekend, Malone will be contemplating what appears to be the certainty of meeting Division 1B's Dolphin or Galwegians for their play-off as finishing higher than fourth place now looks highly unlikely for the Gibson Park side.

Their 34-28 defeat at Highfield means that Paddy Armstrong's squad - who host Cashel this weekend - will not, in all probability, overtake third-placed Nenagh who play already relegated Belfast Harlequins with the Deramore side having been hammered 50-10 at home to Corinthians.

In 2B, Armagh's 48-13 spanking of City of Derry still kept them in second and a point behind leaders Greystones with the Wicklow club running up their own big victory at Wanderers.

Alex McCloy's side have another good chance of grabbing another five-pointer when they finish against Bective this weekend but Greystones are also looking good for another maximum point haul when they entertain Old Crescent who cannot improve on fourth place.

Should the title and automatic promotion slip from their grasp, Armagh at least have a home play-off semi-final, likely to be against Wanderers, already in the bag.

The situation, though, is not so promising looking for City of Derry who are now in eighth and go to ninth-placed Skerries this weekend for a shoot-out to avoid the relegation play-off semi-final with Tullamore, 2C's fourth-placed side.

And in Division 2C, Rainey Old Boys' 18-17 victory at Boyne secured fourth and a play-off at either Navan or Sligo while the result also ensured Bangor's survival.

The Upritchard Park side - who significantly signed up long-serving player-coach Jason Morgan for another two years last Friday - lost 46-13 at Navan but can now relax for their final game of the campaign which just happens to be an Ulster derby meeting at Rainey.

Results: Div 2A: Banbridge 43 QUB 20, Belfast Harlequins 10 Corinthians 50, Blackrock 26 Sunday's Well 21, Highfield 34 Malone 28

Div 2B: Bective 48 Thomond 12, City of Derry 13 Armagh 48, Dungannon 40 Skerries 26, Old Crescent 51 Barnhall 33, Wanderers 29 Greystones 46

Div 2C: Bangor 13 Navan 46, Boyne 17 Rainey 18, Midleton 17 Bruff 22, Seapoint 19 Kanturk 13, Sligo 30 Tullamore 9

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